RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.
*Written in 2015.
This article is inspired by a few things I have witnessed or heard from friends in the craft beer industry that are too respectful to publicly speak their mind – contrary to those that this is about.
Many of us that travel in craft beer circles, at one point or another, have heard the Legend of the Douchebag Brewer. He’s the brewer that has gained a bit of small town fame around his place of origin. He has also built up a reputation of traveling around and being a complete dickhead when visiting other breweries or talking to other craft beer connoisseurs.
The douchebag brewer is high on his own bullshit and whether or not he is good at his craft, he perceives himself to be the best in the world. In fact, he has to make sure that everyone knows this by always talking up his beer, his secret process and how it is superior to everyone else, all while trashing other hardworking and passionate brewers in the process.
Some of these douchebag brewers like showing up in brewery taprooms when the other brewers have left for the day. They then cowardly trash the beer to the bar staff or to other patrons, most of which are loyal customers of the brewery that the douchebag is trashing.
Their inflated sense of worth must cloud reality because whenever I’ve encountered this character, I have made it a point to avoid his brewery and write him off as a piece of crap not deserving of my business or respect. And I am sure that other craft beer connoisseurs view this character the same way.
These douchebag brewers often times take their self-obsessed views to social media, using Twitter and Facebook to express their “expertise” in regards to how great they are, how much everyone else “doesn’t get it” and to sell their preferred beer styles as superior to every other. Their palate is God and we all must bow down! Trust in Beer Jesus or be damned to an eternity of poorly crafted Berliner Weisse!
Some of these idiots perpetuate whatever beefs they seem to have with other brewers, whether real or imaginary. It is like some old school rap beef but no one really cares except for the whiny self-important douchebag brewer and maybe one hardcore fanboy that still relishes in the fact that his buddy brewer gave him a free beer six months prior.
What these people fail to realize is that they are doing massive harm to the craft beer industry and to their own brand. People don’t like supporting assholes and more often than not, they won’t knowingly support a douchebag. And trashing others who do what you claim to love is counterproductive to the bigger picture.
The craft beer industry is competing with the macro beer industry, who have now felt the threat and upped the ante in attacking beer that is better than their mass produced adjunct-filled garbage. If the freedom fighters are preoccupied with in-fighting amongst themselves, the evil empire wins. If you are as passionate as you claim about craft beer and your product, you shouldn’t want the evil empire to win.
Craft breweries need to build each other up. With as large of a piece of the pie as macro breweries have, there is enough to go around for craft breweries. If you think there isn’t, than you simply don’t understand business, economics and what it is that you do.
Most of the breweries that I love and frequent, go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to helping out the other breweries around them. People share brewing tips, they help the new guys get off the ground, offer business advice and often times collaborate in new beers, which strengthens their bond and thus, strengthens the craft beer scene.
There is a kinship among brewers and breweries that doesn’t exist in most other industries. Most brewers have the respect for one another being that their passions are the same and that they are all small businesses trying to make it in a highly competitive industry in a country with an unreliable economy. Through hard work and passion, there is a respect between brewers.
The douchebag brewers apparently don’t understand that and are only out for their own gain regardless of how it effects the industry as a whole. You have to build and create, not trash and destroy.
Now assuming that some of these douchebag brewers are as good as they claim, why wouldn’t they want to use their knowledge and skill to make the industry a better place overall? Through collaborations and joint ventures, they can help educate newer and less experienced brewers. They could be business and brewing mentors to many of the brewers who are good but not yet great. Besides, isn’t the world a better place with more good beer than more shitty beer?
Most brewers out there are pretty good people that understand all of this. But with everything, there are always bad apples. I choose not to support them because they are actively working against something I love, as well as the livelihoods of others who feel the same as I do.
If you are the master of your craft, you have a responsibility of passing that craft on. If your craft doesn’t survive, future generations won’t give a shit about you anyway.
When Budweiser, the Coca Cola of shitty beer, feels compelled to attack craft beer in every ad, they are against a wall and threatened. When you’ve got the beast’s balls in your hand, you rip them off, you don’t just stand there arguing with the other hunters that you are the best at holding the beasts balls because that’s when the beast bites your head off.
Ego ruins everything. And brewing great beer shouldn’t be about ego, it should be about kinship and respect because ultimately, isn’t beer better when you are sharing it with your friends?